Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Champagne Socialists Abandon Those in Housing Need

My own guest 'Blogger' today, is my cabinet colleague, Cllr Chris Wells, who published the opinion piece shown below in the 'Your Thanet' newspaper this morning. The opinions surrounding the proposed development in Cliftonville's Dalby Square are highly polarized and I must congratulate Thanet's Labour group on their vigourous and I believe, quite disingenuous 'disinformation' campaign. As Chris is the cabinet member holding the housing portfolio, you might wish to read what he has to say.

Chris Wells writes:

Political watchers in Thanet could be forgiven for rubbing their eyes and wondering if they were experiencing an upside down world of dreams this week.  The Conservative administration at Thanet District Council put forward plans to build new, affordable, family homes, to help house more comfortably some of the 5,000 or so people on the housing waiting list for the area; and the local Labour party protested and campaigned against new social housing.

So, is this the same Labour Party:

  1. Which wanted larger and fewer flats in Cliftonville?  Yes – but here they campaign against the provision of new affordable family homes, and only want flats!
  2. Who opposes shared service housing as 'the beginning of privatisation of council housing?'    Yes – but here they oppose a nationally recognised and registered social landlord, cynically describing them as developers rather than the affordable housing provider they are!
  3. Which backed their former government's stance to build on green belt land to provide necessary social housing?  Yes – but here a brown field site, formerly housing, is hailed as 'peerless' green space!
  4. Who nationally has repeatedly supported the ability to gift land to Registered Social Landlords to make social housing more affordable?  Yes – but here local Labour attempt tarnish of this commonly used policy as unusual.
  5. Whose local Leader and Deputy Leader live in the leafy avenues of Cliftonville East and Broadstairs?  Yes – and perhaps there's the clue as to how far these champagne socialists have moved from understanding the needs of those on the housing waiting list and in particular families desperate need for better housing.  Instead they offer Daily Mail like attitudes, chanting not in my back yard at every opportunity.
 Come next May, I suggest you remember things like this.  If you want self righteous indignation, self serving headlines, and labyrinthine twists of policy to suit the moment, you should vote Labour. 

If you want someone to get on with the job of improving people's lives, best vote Conservative.

As a famous meerkat might once have summarised:  'Simples'.


Cllr. Mike Harrison said...

Chris Wells has as usual embarked on an incoherent rant about the Labour Party and some of its members without a thought for what he is saying. It obviously hasn’t occurred to him that the objection to the use of the green space for housing has come from the residents and not Councillors. What the Councillors are doing is representing the views of the people they are elected to represent regardless of how they voted.
That of course is a concept that is alien to Chris Wells and a great many other local Conservatives who firmly believe in the ‘we know best’ school of politics and blunder blindly on regardless.
Interestingly it was a Conservative Member who moved at Scrutiny that the whole thing be referred back to the Councils Asset Management group for a further look at the whole matter of disposal.
It remains to be seen whether Cabinet actually do this or prove my theory that ‘we know best’ and agree to give this land away for nothing as originally proposed.

DrM. said...


Chris Wells is the last person that one might associate with an 'incoherent rant' about the Labour party. His argument is a lucid one, and deserves attention to the detail.

Ironically, I was up there last week and also took the opportunity of speaking with local people. So I think that the points Chris raises, deserve some answer as Labour is clearly in conflict with its deeply held socialist values on this one.

Mike Wilson,6 Ethelbert Crescent said...

I am a local resident to Dalby Sq, and while this open green space may not have always been green space it is now, and it is so valuable providing as it does a safe sports facility away from a main road in this already excessively high density housing area.
If we as a town are so so desperate for more housing lets build a properly planned estate on a cauli field on the edge of town rather than on this little amenity site.
Our Cllrs do their best for us here, regardless of their party's national policy and we appreciate that.
We don't care where they live, they do a lot of good work around here, in spite of TDC rather than with it.
I just wonder what TDC and the Cllrs on the planning committee who voted this development in are getting out of it?

DrM. said...


It's quite simple or a Chris points out. A "nationally recognised and registered social landlord" is prepared to invest in much-needed homes in one of the most deprived wards in the country.

Its affordable family homes and not flats that Cliftonville so desperately needs to redress the balance of the last 20 years.

While I grant you the need for play space, I was there one fine evening last week and it was deserted but then on another, I've seen kids playing football. When I was a boy, with no play space nearby, my friends and I simply walked a couple of hundred yards to the seafront and played football on the grass there, so the claim that we are short of space is rather different to major urban areas.

Mike Wilson said...

Its just so dangerous for kids to play football on the seafront, adjacent as it is to a very busy road and bus route, and away from their parents, who of course in an ideal world would be spending time with the kids but in fact due to pressures of modern life cannot do so very much.
If more residents of Dalby Sq included themselves in local issues and had a better command of English then I think there would be many more objections to this development.However some I have spoken to do not wish to bring themselves to the notice of officialdom as they come from countries where to do so would invite retribution.
Meanwhile we and our Cllrs have to stand up for them.
I would love to have the time to investigate cross links between the new owner and builder on this green space and TDC and the planning committee members.
I cannot help wondering if there may possibly be more to this than some spuriously altruistic motive.
It just is not common senese to give this away and build on it.

Anonymous said...

A brown field in-town site, even if temporarily used as a play area, has to be preferable for redevelopment to arable land in a world increasingly facing a growing food shortage.

Mike Wilson may not be aware of the fact, but some 70% of the food consumed in the UK is imported. The last thing we need as a country is to build on our farm land.

This site in Cliftonville is comfortably within reach of other open and play area space and is not used half as much as the anti campaign would like us to believe. Indeed, many of the times I have passed by it has looked more like a dump for mattresses and sundry waste rather than a much cherished playground as claimed.

Sadly, once again, it is but the ball in a game of political football to be kicked to and fro to suit the old point scoring process.

DrM. said...

I'm inclined to agree with 8:15's comments but let me for a moment 'deconstruct' Mike's last post.

His second paragraph carries an implicit suggestion of racism on the part of 'officialdom' and it appears that they feel unable to represent their views and the same teenagers who quite possibly make their own way to local schools, are unable to cross the road to the seafront open spaces unsupervised.

Mike's statement " time to investigate cross links between the new owner and builder on this green space and TDC and the planning committee members" carries with it the implication of corruption on the part of the planning committee, which is made up from members of all political groups. Quite how any builder or developer could influence the majority vote on the committee, I don't quite know but I resent the implication, as would the members of the committee.

Perhaps Mike should attend one of these and actually see how it works as it is public facing and quite transparent.